Look After Yourself
Writing is my way to be conscious of myself in my parenting journey. If my writing helps someone else heal or be more conscious or feel inspired to deal with their life more constructively then I would be honored but this is not a How To Parent site. Lord knows most of the time I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to parenting – and many times an onlooker would be able to see that, because I actually don’t know. Just like everyone else. One of the many, many wonderful things about my work as a therapist is that I get a window into how many other people feel about stuff – so I know I’m not crazy and I’m not alone.
Most of all I write to give myself a space to be me and not forget myself on this crazy adventure of being a parent. Nowadays (as opposed to in our parents’ day) you are taught all these things like, “Look after yourself – physically, emotionally, spiritually”. Then you become a parent and then you’re told, “Yeah we know what we told you, but forget about all that. Now it’s time to do that for your kid.” What? How does that make any sense? If you don’t look after yourself and you become unhealthy, mentally unstable and spiritually devoid how is that going to help your child?
So in my opinion I HAVE to look after myself. I have to stay a healthy, well rounded person if I want my children to be healthy well-rounded people. (You can take the ‘rounded’ part of that to mean whatever you want it to mean.) I don’t buy into this self-sacrifice stuff. I think it’s a load of garbage. I still do it of course because I’ve been so well trained to, but boy do I get annoyed with myself when I realize I’m forgetting myself again. Every part of me rises up in rebellion. Suddenly junk food is irresistibly appealing and I’m angry and grumpy and a fantastic victim. Wow, does my family love me at those times!
It’s no good to overlook yourself because you are looking over children. No good at all. When my mother, child of the 50’s, overlooked herself in the name of being a good wife and mother it just left me a scared and unsettled child. Because I felt she had no center you see? So I couldn’t rely on her, not really. That was how I saw it then. I struggled to respect her decisions and opinions because I could sense they were not from deep within her – they were for others. Nowadays she’s different, thank goodness – a woman of the new millennium – but I know from first-hand experience that forgetting yourself really doesn’t do any good for your children.
My other belief about this though – and this might seem like I’m totally contradicting what I’ve just been saying – is that everything we do, we actually do for ourselves. The reason I don’t think that’s a complete contradiction to saying we are trained to do things for others is that sometimes we do what we do for subconscious reasons. What I mean is that in some – or many – instances we don’t know why we are actually doing something.
But whether we know why we do things or not or not – I can tell you this from years of working with clients who are trying to figure out why they make the choices they do, or behave as they do – there is something you are getting out of whatever it is you are doing, otherwise you wouldn’t be doing it. It’s sort of a Darwinian thing I suppose. If something doesn’t serve your interests, you stop doing it. The tricky part is getting to see what your interests actually are – because sometimes they’re hidden, even from us. So for example, if we are overlooking ourselves and putting others first it’s because somewhere along the line we learned that we would get further in the world by doing that. So it serves us even while it hinders us, see?
But this is where the crux of my viewpoint comes in.
THE TIMES YOU REACT IN DISTRESS,
OR BEHAVE IN WAYS YOU DON’T LIKE,
OR MAKE CHOICES THAT YOU WISH WERE DIFFERENT
ARE CLUES TO YOUR TRUEST SELF.
And this is where using parenting to learn about yourself and heal your wounds and grow as a person saves the day. Because you can use the clues you get from the moments your kids drive you nuts to understand where you are wounded, find out what caused that wound in the first place, and go in there and bring it long awaited healing. That frees you up to make different choices in future. It releases you from being triggered by the same old crap every time. Those arguments that go around in circles where you know what each of you is going to say because you’ve said it so many times before but nothing changes… bringing those changes is what this is about. And using your experiences as a parent can help you do that. You have the poweeerrrr.